"I wish I had a good man for a lover
who knew the sharp tongues and just rage of men."
--The Iliad, Book 6, Fitzgerald translation
When Denver heisted the Quebec Nordiques, the local media had the immediate task of teaching an ignorant populace innocent of puck how to watch, how to root, and how to appreciate the game and the stick-and-blade-wielding white guys who played it. Denver's two dailies set their passionate and thorough business-PR writers to the task. And thus did the Rocky Mountain News (RIP) publish a Rick Morrissey piece that began like so:
OH, THAT FACE
RICCI'S MYSTIQUE MELTS WOMEN, LEAVES MEN SCRATCHING THEIR HEADS
This is a story about men and women and their inability to see eye to eye.
This is about a serious threat to whatever harmony might exist between the sexes.
This is about Mike Ricci, the Colorado Avalanche center with the untamed hair and the picket-fence mouth. Unless men and women can reach some common ground on Ricci, we're doomed to a future of mistrust and misunderstanding.
Women look at the 24-year-old Colorado Avalanche center, see that dark, cascading hair and what...
The piece ran to 2,159 words. Mike Ricci's face was, and is, Mike Ricci's face. One immediately searches for words like "hard-hitting" to describe Mr. Morrissey's work; and thus was Denver informed that: it was okay to have sex with these new athletes, in addition to watching them play of hockey. (This would prove untrue, for at least some Denver residents.) I don't remember the hockey content of the article after all these years -- though the "Mike Ricci is having sex with women" hook has certainly stuck with me since that fateful October day -- but I assume it called attention to his somewhat frenzied approach to the game, his defensive prowess, his ability to get the puck behind the goalie now and again... But, the rich, thick work of Mr. Morrissey aside, I don't remember that Mike Ricci really resonated in Denver -- certainly he was never the powerful combination of I Need a Hero for the fellas and I Need a Man for the ladies that Morrissey envisioned slash seemed to be trying to sell. Mostly I remember debates about "is he good enough to have been the fourth pick in the draft a few years back?" (Answer: yeah, unless you're an idiot.) Eventually Ricci was banished to San Jose and I literally never thought about him again.
To my surprise, however, Ricci did seem to attain totemic power there, in the South Bay, clad in raiments of teal, moving his stick with just rage on the ice, and, one gathers, moving his stick and his sharp tongue with potent effect off the ice. In the words of our own Bogdan Von Pylon, answering the eternal question "Why Ricci?":
~ Irresponsible Hyperbole Ahead ~
Ricci because he's legendarily hideous and effective—and gives not a fuck about anything but the biscuit—Like a meat-seeking robot-weasel in search of a hot meal, everything between him and the puck goes into the blades and comes out bleeding ... and the mullet.
It's safe to say that the ever-battered Mike Ricci knew the "sharp tongues and just rage of men" throughout his career. In Denver, he may not have satisfied, leaving the team -- and city! -- continuing to search for a good man to love; in San Jose, however, he attained his destiny, and found his posse.